Too Old to Win
While frivolous lawsuits certainly happen in Canada, it’s our neighbor to the south that seems to be the King of the Crazy Lawsuit. Let’s look at the case of Martin Stoner, a violinist who once played for the New York City Ballet. Now, you might think that he was fired from his job for being too old, and that’s where his age discrimination case comes into play. Well, you would be wrong. He was let go from his job, but his age had nothing to do with it. His age did have something to do with what he hoped would be his follow up though.
The Wrong Contest
Stoner heard about a contest called the Young Concert Artist Competition, which he wanted to join since it had a prize of $75,000. Since he was freshly out of a job, he thought he could turn this into an opportunity. After all, he had 25 years of experience as a concert violinist. It should be an easy contest for him to win. Apparently, the only problem was the fact that he didn’t read the contest rules thoroughly, or look at the title of the contest. This was a contest for young performers, and at 66, he didn’t exactly qualify as being young.
They Let Him Compete Anyway
Even though the contest is for young musicians, the director of the contest actually allowed Stoner to play during the first round. That would be the opposite of age discrimination. Even though he would not be able to win the prize, the directors thought they might be able to give him a recommendation. They found that his performance was not up to par, and he did not make it to subsequent rounds. Losing a contest to young musicians is a bit of a ego buster…. so it must have been something else that caused the loss.
The Age Discrimination Lawsuit
He believed that they dismissed him because of his age, and that was the grounds for his lawsuit. The directors say he simply did not perform well, and there would be no way they could recommend him. He brought his case before the court, believing that he might be able to sue over ageism.
Legal Ironies In The Courtroom
Now, are you ready for the real kicker? During the proceedings in 2011, Stoner complained about his judge in the case. He felt that the judge was ”¦ wait for it ”¦ too old to preside over the case. He also claimed that the judge was biased against him because he chose to represent himself rather than hiring an attorney. He claims that the judge had both physical and mental limitations. He knows that there is an ample supply of irony in accusing the judge of being too old to preside over the case, but that didn’t matter to him. He felt that the judge’s behavior, which others found no problem with, was enough for him to get a new judge.
The courts ended up throwing out the case, as one would expect. While some crazy lawsuits get some mileage… this one was a dud. It’s important to note that ageism can be a real problem, and many elders in Canada have faced discrimination because of their age. However, there’s quite a bit difference between actual ageism and this particular case involving the concert specifically for young musicians.
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